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The Linux promise

The Linux promise
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First Published: Tue, Jun 17 2008. 11 23 PM IST

Updated: Tue, Jun 17 2008. 11 23 PM IST
When you think “iPhone”, you may just soon find yourself thinking “lock-in” with every feature, as a customer of Apple’s phone, services, and partners. Fortunately, hope springs eternal. Increasingly, all other handset manufacturers are coming together and embracing Linux as their platform. Linux fundamentally promises “freedom” and “openness”, enabling you to unshackle yourself from vendors who wish to tie you in with their hardware, software and services. Linux also spoils you for choice: You get access to a much larger base of software that is being developed or ported to mobiles.
Finally, Linux also spurs innovation as it gives end-users and developers free reign to author or improve any software or feature they want. Starting in the last quarter of this year, expect an explosive growth of Linux-based mobiles and handheld devices by 2009. Apple may just find itself fighting in isolation with an exponentially larger market-force. Discover more:
LiMo Foundation:This is a large industry consortium swelling in numbers. In February, it unveiled 18 models from seven vendors, including the Motorola RAZR2 V8, MOTO U9, MOTOROKR E8, and the Samsung SGH-i800. http://www.limofoundation.org
OpenMoko: With its inspiring ‘Free Your Phone’ slogan, this project allows anyone to freely innovate and customize almost every aspect of the mobile experience, including the hardware. http://www.openmoko.com
Open handset: The Alliance A group of more than 30 hardware, software and telecom companies developing Linux and FOSS-based open standards for mobile devices called Android. http://www.openhandsetalliance.com
Android:Google’s Linux-based software platform and operating system, first unveiled in November 2007. Early prototypes demoed in February and May. The first product is expected in the US by the last quarter of the year. http://code.google.com/android
Moblin: Focused on developing Linux-based open-source software for Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs). Other new categories of devices such as Netbooks and Net-tops. Intel’s new CPU, called Atom, play a significant role as well. http://www.moblin.org
Nokia Internet Tablet OS, and maemo: Currently ships with the Nokia N810. http://www.maemo.org
Qtopia: A behind-the-scenes application platform for embedded Linux-based mobile devices. It ships on more than 45 models of handheld devices, including 11 mobile phones. Several million devices run Qtopia. http://qtopia.net.
A clock radio for your iPhone
The iHome clock radio for the Apple iPhone has not changed radically from versions of the iHome for the iPod. They allowed you to insert the iPod into a dock built into the top of the clock radio for recharging and—here is the cool part—play the contents of the iPod through the clock radio’s speakers. Thanks to a set of adapters that comes with the new $150 iP99 model of the iHome, the iPhone, as well as various versions of the iPod, can be docked.
Once you’ve docked your iPhone, you’ll hear a call coming in, although the iHome doesn’t play the calls—you’ll have to reach over and grab the phone for that. It has a remote control, but that is used to choose the songs on the phone’s playlist. The clock radio has a large, clear display, good reception and fine sound. The only drawback is that the iPod-like volume and station controls may be hard for a person in a just-awakened state to manipulate. The device is available at Brookstone and Apple retail stores, Brookstone’s online store and the iHome website. ©2008/the new york times
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First Published: Tue, Jun 17 2008. 11 23 PM IST